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TECH: How to build nerf bars

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by dodgerodder, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,944


    Well after the recent thread about nerf bars, I have really wanted to build one for my rpu. So after work, me & my dad gave it a go.

    I used 3/4" solid bar stock instead of tubing, because I could heat & bend it without kinking like tubing would. I decided that I wanted an inside bend radius of 4". The only thing I had that was 4" in diameter was a worn out holesaw, so we used that for our die. I tacked a pulley inside to help keep the holesaw from collapsing, it worked fine. We built a simple jig out of scrap steel to form the bends-the picture will explain itself way better than I could:


    Now we heated and bent the outside pieces. I had to build the nerf bar out of 4 pieces, because all I had for bar stock was short pieces:


    It bent really nice & easy, now I had the two outside pieces:

    Then we cut the two straight lengths to give the width I wanted:


    We beveled the edge for a nice weld joint:


    And the welded it up. I preheated each joint with the torch so the mig would lay a deeper, flat bead-this made a BIG difference in the quality of the weld. I have a good size mig(Miller 210), but preheating all of these weld joints gave beautiful results. We clamped it all down, I welded the 4 joints, spent some time grinding, and we started to have something:



    Now we built the uprights and mounting brackets to mount the nerf bar to my frame. I used 5/8" bar stock for the uprights, & 2" wide x 3/16" flat stock for the mounts. We rounded the edge of the plate, & drilled two mounting holes:

    Then to bevel the edges of the 5/8" bar stock, I chucked it in the drill press, & spun it while I ground the edge down-worked slick!:

    Made a simple jig, and welded them up:


    Again preheated with a torch, and got a nice flat weld joint:


    We clamped up the mounts to the bars, preheated & welded the mounts on:

    Made some tabs to mount the plate to:

    And we have us a nerf bar!!:

    Here's a few pics of it clamped in place. I still have to drill & tap mounting holes on the outside of each frame rail to bolt it up. I am thrilled with the result!! Total cost in materials, about $30. I will have this chromed, and I really think it will be a nice focal point on the rpu, I love it! Hope this might help give some ideas-you can easily make yours whatever shape you want:




    Hope this helps!
  2. Nice work, good tip on the pre-heat
  3. brady1929
    Joined: Sep 30, 2006
    Posts: 5,359

    from Mesa, Az

    you are very talented, nice.
  4. Pinstriper40
    Joined: Sep 24, 2007
    Posts: 2,137


    I'm glad you posted this- I've got to build some nerfs for my '40 tudor sometime between now and the end of May! I've heard of the pre-heating process before but didn't know why it was necessary or beneficial. Thanks!
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  5. Royalshifter
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 15,240

    from California

    That is a cool tech.
  6. Looks great! What do you use to get the scale off of the hot rolled steel that you use? I always have a hard time and I always notice that you get a nice uniform finish with no scale.
  7. haroldd1963
    Joined: Oct 15, 2007
    Posts: 1,142

    from Peru, IL

    Great Tech article. That pickup is looking awesome!
  8. fef100
    Joined: Mar 24, 2007
    Posts: 165


    Nice job, great finished product.
  9. Very cool, i've been thinking about building something for my truck and now i know how! THANKS, excellent tech
  10. very cool stuff , nice tech..
  11. Tudor
    Joined: Aug 20, 2003
    Posts: 6,396

    from GA
    1. Sock Fuckers Car Club
    2. S.F.C.C.

    very COOL man. Nice work. Looks great - I have been wanting to build something for mine too.
  12. Tulsa oldskool55
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 84

    Tulsa oldskool55

    I think it's great that you made this yourself with stuff that most of us have. I was wanting nerfs for my ride and now I know how,Thanks for the 411
  13. Mullda
    Joined: Apr 12, 2006
    Posts: 296


    Sweet!! That is a great post. Beautiful work.
  14. Cool!

    Thanks for the tech tips. Will use Nerf Bars on my 41 Ford Tudor cause i think it's cool

  15. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 6,964


    Nice tech..Was planning on doing a rear nerf for my own truck, so this came at a good time..
    Thanks :)

  16. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,944


    Thanks a ton for the nice words guys, I am really glad that this helps out. It really was a fun project to do, and cheap too!

    Yeah, preheating it really helped out a ton. Since the 3/4" stock is so thick, and the weld area so small, it would be tough to build up heat at the start to get a nice penetrating bead. Once it was preheated, as soon as I struck the arc, the puddle was digging right in deep from the start.

    One funny word of caution though. My dad would heat each joint with the torch, move away and then I would start welding quickly while it was nice & hot. Well we had a freaking mess going on around the clamped up jig.

    So my dad did he torch thing, I told him it was ready to weld, and he moved away with said torch. As soon as I started welding, I feel a great amount of heat from the top of the back of my head, followed by the familiar nasty smell of hair on fire.

    I must have done something at some earlier point of my dads life to p#ss him off, cuz he torched the back corner of my hair:eek:
    And all I could do is pat it out and keep welding, cuz this was a very visible weld that would REALLY show once this is chromed. The things we do to build a car. My dad got quite a kick from this. Even after showering, I can still smell burned hair
    I guess(he says...) that the torch hose got caught arounnd a pair of vice grips as he was pulling away, aiming said torch at my noggin.....

    I fight with it all the time. Some mill scale seems to jump right off with only a cup brush on the grinder, other pieces are tough to even blast off in the sand blasting cabinet:confused:
    If it is a small enough piece to fit in the cabinet, I blast it, then hit it rice a rice cake(Norton) on a 5" angle grinder. The rice cake really smooths out a piece nicely. Then I will hit it with the bench grinder/wire wheel and it almost looks polished.

    I also am a really big fan of Picklex 20. Once you are done grinding/prepping, you spray this on, let it sit for a half a minute, hit it with a scotchbrite pad, and wipe off with a rag-it cleans a TON of gunk from the part, and really makes it weld up beautifully. It also prevents flash rust on steel to-cool stuff!

    Cool sedan man, I would love a 40/41 Tudor
  17. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 5,664


    You really do some nice work DR! Right from day 1 your posts have been interesting and the projects cool.
    The Nerfs are dead on...but the procedure and the setup is the most interesting of all.
    GOOD stuff! ;)
  18. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,533

    from Garner, NC

    i like a lot....
    I'll borrow some ideas as I'm building the push bar for my truck...
  19. floored
    Joined: Apr 11, 2007
    Posts: 434


    Ya think maybe Pop's has a case of hair envy?
  20. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,944


    Thanks a ton for that. I have learned so much from peoples threads here, I am always happy if I have anything that could help somebody out.
    The nerfs really made me happy- the jig was really simple, 20 minutes of time and a lot of scrap useless stuff. It kind of got me thinking how cool it would be to spend some time making up a somewhat universal bending jig, with removable round dies of various sizes that you could unbolt and swap out. It would take a little time to make, but it really would be useful to have-maybe a future project once the rpu is done

    Pushbars would really be similar to build, I'd love to see pics once you do yours-that would be a cool tech post for sure

    If he did he doesn't anymore, I have a nice melted patch now:p
  21. hillbillyhell
    Joined: Feb 9, 2005
    Posts: 934


    You're beyond ready to own a TIG, you know this right? ;)

    That's a pretty sweet looking nerf bar Dan.
  22. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,944


    That is the problem-I do!! My dad really treated my and got me a Syncrowave 200 at Christmas, I just need to figure out how to use it:eek:

    I know once I learn, I would probably use tig for most everything, I just need some seat time. What I REALLY need is find somebody willing to spend a few hours with me for pay. I would love to find an experienced tig weldor that would do that.

    Hmmm, maybe you need a little Florida vacation................
  23. hillbillyhell
    Joined: Feb 9, 2005
    Posts: 934


    Haha, I dunno that I'm all that great at it, but send me two plane tickets, business class please. And I'll need a day off to go to Sarasota.
  24. Nicely done.

    Some of you guys are making it tough to vote for a tech week winner.

    I especially like the jigs you made.
    Those go a long way toward making parts that match.
    Not like the good ol daze where you heat it up, bend it around a pipe or similar and then do a few reheats to make the bend right and also match.

    Pre-heating the bar is a good idea.
    Done that with a gas welder before gas welding a heavy part - 1/4" butt-weld to extend an old style scatter shield.

    What did the nerf bar end up weighing?
    Probably not all that much and in a light car with strong engine that's the right end to add weight.

    Far as the hot rolled scale goes, would using cold rolled be cost prohibitive?
    I use it for machining stuff and use hot rolled for most welding projects.

    Seems like cold rolled could save a lot of work in the polishing dept.
  25. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,944


    Thanks C9 for the nice words. The jig really was helpful, and really easy to make too. I was wondering if this was going to be stupid heavy, but all said & done it probably weighs 10 lbs or less. I agree with you, I could probably use a few hundred pounds there to help with traction:p

    I also really try to use cold rolled too where I can, it really makes it way easier to clean up. The front frame rails on the car I had bent from 3/16" plate into the c-channel, and it is SUPPOSED to be cold rolled. But, the mill scale can barely be ground off:confused: Weird, I will end up having the frame blasted before paint anyways

  26. Evel
    Joined: Jun 25, 2002
    Posts: 8,968

    1. 60s Show Rods

    That RULES!!!

    I love how the holes on the rear are expose behind the nerf bar...I can't wait to see your RPU done,, its going to be really kick ass~~

    I want to eventually want to make a small nerf bar for the front of LW...

    go man go!!!
  27. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,944


    Thanks dude! You realize that you're the one to blame for this though-when I saw your coupe's nerf that did me in. After that I had to try & build one. I really love the way the license plate mount area of your nerf bar fits the same radius of the taillights-too cool!

    I really would like to see more pics of front nerfs too. Front nerfs seem harder to pull off though-they either look great or not so great. When they look right it's killer though

    Thanks again man, I appreciate

  28. rd martin
    Joined: Nov 14, 2006
    Posts: 1,392

    rd martin
    from indiana

    cool post im building a copy of an early digger you gave me an idea for a cool push bar thanks want to see that rpu done.....
  29. BenW455
    Joined: Feb 9, 2007
    Posts: 415


    Super nice work. Thanks for the tip on pre heating.

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